By Charles Sercombe
Although the coronavirus pandemic was a challenge for the Hamtramck Public School District this past year, there was a plus side:
Millions of dollars in federal funding came to the district to make its buildings safe from the spread of COVID-19.
That money is equivalent to the amount of money a failed bond issue, sponsored by the Hamtramck Public Schools, would have raised, said District Superintendent Jaleelah Ahmed at last Thursday’s State of the District Address.
“Our prayers were answered,” Ahmed said.
The annual District Address was held via Facebook, with only a handful of people invited to attend in-person at the Community Center.
That federal money freed up the district’s general budget to purchase two buildings for much-needed additional classroom for students.
This was the big news from the district.
It will also allow the district to get rid of the portable classrooms next to Kosciuszko Middle School that are currently housing 250 Dickinson West Elementary School.
Those students will be transferred to a 20,000 square-foot building on Conant, which used to be where the Social Security office was located.
That new building will house kindergarten through third graders. That will leave Kosciusko Middle School for 4th-8th grades.
The cost of this building, Ahmed said, was a little over $1.4 million. In all, it will cost about $5 million, after the installation of an updated heating and cooling system, and to add furniture and technology equipment.
The other purchase was the former People’s Community Center on the southend.
That building cost the district $527,500.
Federal funding will also allow the district to make improvements it its other buildings, which, again, includes the ventilation systems.
Ahmed said that, by providing more classroom space, the building purchases “equal opportunity” for students.
She also noted that various studies show a connection between a pleasant learning space and improved student scores.
“Every time we invest in our future, we invest in our children, because our future is our children,” Ahmed said.
The injection of federal funding, Ahmed said, will “bring us closer to equitable learning.”
As for the coming school year, students will be able to return to their classrooms, but the district will also continue to offer online virtual courses.
The district’s Executive Director of Student Achievement, Rebekah Brewer, said that there have been upgrades on how virtual teaching will be done.
“It will look very different,” Brewer said.
Posted July 23, 2021